The Department of Justice has found the Albuquerque Police Department has established a pattern and practice in the use of excessive and fatal force that violates the Constitutional rights of those shot or harmed by police officers, reports the Albuquerque Journal.
In a 46-page letter of findings to Mayor Richard Berry, the DOJ reported, “We have determined that structural and systemic deficiencies — including insufficient oversight, inadequate training and ineffective policies — contributed to the use of unreasonable force.”
The Department of Justice reviewed 20 fatal shootings by Albuquerque Police between 2009 and 2013 and found that in the majority of cases the level of force used was not justified because the person killed by police did not present a threat to police officers or the public. The DOJ also reviewed the use of nonlethal force involving significant harm or injury to people by APD officers and found a similar pattern of excessive force by officers against people who posed no threat and was not justified by the circumstances. Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels said in an interview the findings were “pretty disturbing” and that public trust of the department has been eroded.
But the Justice Department said that whether it decides to seek a monitor to oversee changes in the department would depend in part on how willing APD was to make changes. Berry recently called on DOJ to begin negotiations for monitoring of the police department.